Planning a Halloween party is hard work. With so many options out there, it’s hard to know where to start! Which is where picking a theme comes in handy. And with our list of the best Halloween party themes for adults, you sure to find one that you and your guests will love.
Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday of the year.
Because of that, my annual Halloween party is the biggest bash of the year.
And that means I have to start planning it months in advance.
The first thing I always do is pick a theme. (It just makes decorating and costume decisions so much easier).
Which I think is the hardest part of the whole process!
To come up with ideas, I keep a list of potential Halloween party theme ideas and write down notes about what I could do for each one.
Then I pick the one that appeals to me that year.
In case you’re having the same dilemma trying to figure out a theme, I thought I would share my ideas for the best adult Halloween party themes (although many of them would work for kids, too).
Some of these I’ve already done, and others are still on my list for potential use in future years. In either case, hopefully they’ll provide some inspiration!
1 | Pirates Of The Caribbean
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I love to use movies as Halloween party theme inspiration.
And Pirates of the Caribbean is a fun one that will give you the perfect excuse to serve delicious Halloween rum drinks!
I did this party theme a few years ago and actually built a pirate ship in the front yard that you walked through to get in the gate. It was great for the party, and the trick-or-treaters loved it, too.
Of course, you don’t have to go that far. Skeleton pirates, stuffed parrots, treasure boxes, skull and cross bone banners, and green and blue spooky lighting work well, too.
The costumes are really easy also. There are a ton of pirate costumes out there (including Jack Sparrow from the movie).
And you can buy a bunch of cheap eye patches to give to the people who show up without a costume.
2 | Harry Potter
My Harry Potter party was one of the most popular Halloween party themes I’ve ever done. (And yes, the guests were all adults!)
I think it’s because there’s just so much to work with.
From witches and wizards to the Hogwarts school and all of the adventures, there’s a ton of party decorating possibilities.
I turned my living room into the Great Hall complete with torches (fake flames of course) and all of the house tables. Then added a Honey Dukes candy bar, because what’s a Halloween party without candy?
The costumes are easy, too (so many characters to choose from!).
I supplied Harry Potter eye glasses and clip-on ties for the people who didn’t wear a costume.
See all of my Harry Potter Halloween party ideas.
3 | Beetlejuice Halloween Party
A Beetlejuice-themed Halloween party is the perfect way to get your Tim Burton fix!
For my party, I had guests walk through the Beetlejuice graveyard with tombstones in the front yard.
Then go through a DIY “No Exit” turnstile to get into the waiting room for the recently deceased (just like the Maitlands did in the movie).
Lots of black and white stripes, some beetles, iconic Beetlejuice quotes and purple and green lighting really set the tone for this event.
A spooky dinner party would also work.
Ask your guests to come dressed as ghosts or characters from the movie (like Beetlejuice or Lydia).
To get more details, you can read all about my Beetlejuice-themed party.
And get even more ideas HERE.
4 | The Nightmare Before Christmas Party
Speaking of Tim Burton movies, if you want to combine Halloween and Christmas, this party theme based The Nightmare Before Christmas is an awesome one!
Get a scene setter (like this one* from Amazon) for the backdrop.
Then put up a Welcome to Halloween Town banner, spread glowing pumpkins around the room and hang Jack Skellington lanterns (like these* from Amazon) from the ceiling.
Get more ideas HERE.
5 | Maleficent Halloween Party
Maleficent is one of Disney’s newer movies and has lots of inspiration for an adult Halloween party using a variety of green and purple colors.
I have done this theme in the past and re-created the spooky forest in my living room by covering the ceiling in black spooky cloth and hanging fake vines from it.
Add in some fake crows and lots of Halloween lights, and you’re all set.
Witches, knights and fairies make good costumes.
See all of my Maleficent party ideas.
6 | 70s Disco Dance Party
If your friends love to dance, then the Halloween disco dance party is a great option to get your guests grooving all night long!
Look for disco props like mirror balls, leopard print tapestry and strobe lights.
For the dance floor, hang the mirror ball from the ceiling and set up spotlights on opposite ends of the room to create that perfect disco party feel. Go for a skull mirror ball instead of a regular round one for extra Halloween flair.
Then make sure to have a playlist set up with all the best 70’s disco songs.
Hippie wigs, bell bottom pants and other 70’s attire are all you need for costumes. You can often some at thrift stores so it shouldn’t be too expensive.
7 | Great Gatsby
A Great Gatsby party is an elegant Halloween party theme that is perfect for those who love jazz music, prohibition-era glamour and all things 1920s.
When I hosted my Gatsby Halloween party, I turned my house into a speakeasy complete with a hidden entrance (guests came in through the garage) and over-the-top 20’s party decor with lots of feathers and crystals.
To make it look a little more like Halloween, I added a skeleton bartender.
Everyone dressed as flappers and gangsters which makes for some great party pictures.
And if you want to save some money, you can tell everyone it’s BYOB (bring your own booze)…after all serving alcohol wasn’t allowed during prohibition.
See all of my Great Gatsby party ideas.
8 | Wild West
A Wild West party isn’t really a scary theme, but it can be a fun Halloween party.
Decorate your house like the inside of a saloon with old west signs, cowboy boots and fake animal skulls.
Or put up a bunch of fake cacti and re-create the look of the desert indoors.
Cowboys or saloon girls are classic costumes, but people who don’t like to dress up much can get away with a cowboy hat and a toy gun.
9 | Angels and Devils
If you want the best of both worlds, you can always combine good and bad. An angels and devils party would revolve around guests choosing to come as angels (or similarly “good” creatures) or devils (or evil creatures).
When I did this as a Halloween party theme, I decided to do away with the good and made it into a Fallen Angels and Devils party.
Then I used a lot of black and red for the decorations and hung a huge devil from the ceiling that people had to walk under to get into the party.
People dressed as either angels, devils or their favorite bad guy.
10 | Glow in the dark party
Everyone seems to like things that glow in the dark, so why not make a whole party out of it?
While I haven’t dedicated a whole party to this theme, I have done rooms in my house with it.
The trick is to get fairly strong black lights (the light bulbs that you screw into your lamps won’t cut it).
Position them around the room.
Then get all kinds of decorations that glow in the dark.
You can also make your own using glow-in-the-dark paint or markers. Or by using everyday items that just happen to glow under black light (tonic water, Tide liquid detergent and scotch tape are a few).
Encourage your guests to wear glow-in-the-dark clothing so everyone becomes a party of the theme!
See my glow in the dark party ideas.
11 | Time travel party
A time travel party invites guests to arrive dressed in a costume that’s as accurate to any period of history as possible. Someone who chooses to go as an Ancient Roman, for example, would wear a toga. A Victorian attendee would wear a suit or corset.
Like many other “choose your own costume” style parties, decorations and menu for this event may be a bit finicky. A few solutions for this may be:
- Pick your favorite era and theme it around that.
- Ask guests to tell you what they’re dressing as and make something for each.
- Go for something generic.
- Pick a movie about time travel and theme the party around that.
You can also have a competition set up for this party. Have guests vote on who did the best job! Which one of your friends managed to look like they’d just stepped out of a time machine?
12 | Phantom of the Opera
If you’re a Broadway musical lover, then the Phantom of the Opera is a great Halloween party theme!
While the story isn’t specific to Halloween, it is spooky enough to create some dramatic and elegant Halloween decorations.
When I did this party theme, I hung black drapes all the way around the room (like theater curtains) and used a scene setter to create the look of the opera house.
Guests dressed up as the Phantom or people from the show’s masquerade ball scene.
See all of my Phantom of the Opera party ideas.
13 | Zombie Apocalypse
Whether you like the Walking Dead TV show, the Night of the Living Dead movie or the Thriller video, you have lots of options for throwing a zombie-themed Halloween party .
Just like in those shows, you want zombies to be everywhere!
Create an entry by putting up a palette or two and sticking zombie hands through it so people have to walk by them on their way in.
Put a couple of zombie figurines in a corner of your living room (bonus points if they’re animated), along creepy cloth draped everywhere and bloody handprints.
Having all of your guests dress up like Zombies will make the pictures look awesome.
You could even learn the dance steps to the Thriller video and have a zombie dance party.
14 | Haunted Mansion Halloween Party
The Halloween haunted house Halloween party features loads of darkness and ghosts, as well as cobwebs covering the ceiling—enough said!
Use these haunted mansion scene setters* to make your walls look old and decrepit.
Then hang spider webs and lots creepy cloth to make the rest of your room look old, too. Add ghosts and skeletons to complete the scene.
Ghosts are an obvious costume, but you could also go with a more specific theme like the Addams Family if you want something different.
Get all my tips for making your house look haunted.
15 | Scary Graveyard Party
This spooky Halloween party theme is the perfect solution for anyone who loves a good scare—and an awesome Halloween bash.
I almost always have an outdoor Halloween graveyard set up in my front yard, but an indoor version would be lots of fun, too.
Put up tombstones and lots of cobwebs along with crows, spiders and bats. And maybe the odd ghost.
Then run a fog machine along with some blue and green colored lights for extra spookiness.
Guests can dress as skeletons, mummies or ghosts to go with the theme.
16 | Ghostbusters
Halloween Ghostbusters Halloween Party has ghosts, ghouls and even slimy green aliens. Just don’t cross the streams!
Set up a spooky scene to greet guests with Slimer, spider webs and creepy cloth.
Then use either the Ghostbusters logo or ghost cutouts and figurines (available from some Halloween websites) for decorations.
Guests can dress as one of the Ghostbusters, Slimer or a ghost.
Find more ideas HERE.
17 | Game of Thrones
If you are a big Game of Thrones fan, it is a great movie to use as inspiration for a Halloween party theme.
Since it is based in medieval times, dragons, swords and house crests are great decorations. Along with lots of candles (flameless ones are best for parties with a lot of people).
Costumes can be anything from specific characters from the show to traditional medieval clothing.
Get more ideas HERE.
18 | The Rocky Horror Picture Show
This one is a classic! Which is why I was pretty surprised at how few party ideas I could find for it.
This Halloween bash would be all about showing off your best Rocky Horror Picture Show costume and playing some of the most iconic songs from the movie.
You can make your house look like Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s spooky castle by putting up one of these stone wall scene setters*.
Then add some spooky Halloween decorations like cobwebs, spiders, and skulls (and of course the iconic red lips).
And don’t forget the music!
Find out more about the show from their fan club.
19 | The Wizard of Oz
Put on your ruby red slippers and follow the yellow brick road to a Halloween party like no other. This theme is perfect for any grown-up who loves Dorothy’s adventures in Oz!
Decorate your party space with a simple backdrop made of different colors of fabric and add large red paper poppies.
Create the yellow brick road by putting down a long piece of yellow paper and drawing rectangles on it to look like bricks.
There are lots of options for costumes, from witches to flying monkeys to munchkins and of course the main characters.
20 | Mardi Gras Party
This party theme is perfect for anyone with a love of New Orleans culture, be it the food and music or Mardi Gras season in general.
Decorations will need to include lots of purple, green and gold (the colors of this festival) as well as beads that are handed out during Mardi Gras to parade-goers.
Hang purple, green and gold streamers all around. Use a tablecloth in a similar color scheme for your dining room or party space so it looks festive. Place masks on every available surface! Fill up jars with different kinds of beads.
While I haven’t done this theme as a Halloween party, I did use it for New Year’s Eve one year.
And I made sure to have enough extra masks and beads on hand so that everyone could have them. (They also make great party favors).
See all of my Mardi Gras party ideas.
21 | Creepy Carnival Party
The creepy carnival Halloween party theme is like a circus gone wrong.
So try to make the inside of your house feel like the inside of a run down circus tent.
Swag some fabric from the center of the ceiling out to the walls and then down to the floor to create an enclosed atmosphere.
At the entry, add a ticket booth (made from cardboard) with a skeleton as the ticket taker.
And a creepy sign that says “Step Right Up”.
Find more ideas HERE.
22 | The Mad Scientist Halloween Party
For a mad scientest party, don your lab coat and goggles to get into the spirit of things. Then get some inspiration from some popular experimenters such as Dr. Frankenstein, Doc Brown from Back to the Future, or Dr. Evil from Austin Powers.
Put up Halloween lab signs or banners in your party space.
Hanging a brick wall scene setter makes it look like an old castle or dungeon.
You can also turn any tables into science stations for Halloween night by adding items like test tubes, beakers, and bubbling liquids. Dry ice is effective for adding “steam”.
And don’t forget the spooky lighting! Glow in the dark props with black lights work well.
Costumes can be from the movies mentioned above or you can go with a lab coat and glasses for a quick and easy DIY Halloween costume.
See more party ideas HERE.
23 | Witches party
If you think of Halloween, witches are probably one of the first things that comes to mind. So throwing a party using them as your inspiration
Decorate with lots of purple, orange and black, including witch hats, broomsticks, cauldrons and spell books.
Then throw in a couple of black cats and other Halloween props such as spider webs and pumpkins.
Have your friends dress as their favorite witch or wizard to complete the gathering.
24 | Day of the Dead Halloween party
The day of the dead is a Mexican holiday held on November 1st and 2nd where people celebrate friends and family members who have died.
And it also makes a great Halloween party.
Put up colorful skull lights, skeletons dressed in Mexican attire (such as a sombrero), and other skull decorations.
Decorate buffet tables with vibrant colors such as pink, green, red or blue. Then serve traditional Mexican foods, such as tamales or fajitas. Along with some cervezas (beer) of course!
See more ideas HERE.
25 | Under the sea party
For a Halloween party theme that isn’t really spooky but is still fun, try an under the sea party.
Put up an under the water scene setter* on the walls. Then hang clear balloons from the ceiling to look like bubbles, along with some fish cut-outs.
Use beads and other ship wreck treasures as part of your centerpieces.
Lots of blue light will make the whole room feel like it’s under water.
People can dress as sea creatures, mermaids, sailors or even pirates.
Other adult Halloween party theme ideas
These last few Halloween party themes have less to do with decorations and more to do with the activities at your party.
So I don’t have pictures for them, but they are still fun ideas!
26 | Bad costume party
For a group that’s big on laughing and tricks, a bad costume party might be your sort of thing. It’s like the Halloween version of an ugly sweater party.
Put out some of the tackiest, gaudiest fall decor you can scrounge together.
Then, invite your pals to wear the worst costume they can think of!
You might even want to have a competition to see whose costume truly was the worst.
27 | Scary-oke party
“Scary-oke” is the Halloween version of karaoke where everyone sings Halloween tunes.
Scary-oke parties are a great way to have fun with friends and family without spending an arm and a leg on decorations or food.
Set up a play list of Halloween songs (you might want to print out the lyrics).
Then use one these inexpensive Karaoke mics from Amazon to have your party guests sing along.
Some classic Halloween tunes:
- Monster Mash
- Werewolves of London
- Monster in the Mirror
- Ghostbusters (I Ain’t Afraid Of No Ghost!)
- Purple People Eater
- A Nightmare on my Street
- I Put a Spell on You
- Over at the Frankenstein Place
- Witchy Woman
- The Devil Went Down To Georgia
- Hungry Like a Wolf
- Bat Out Of Hell
28 | Retro video game night
If your friend group is into gaming, then a retro video game night could be fun.
Put on a playlist of game soundtracks (many are available on Soundcloud if that helps) and deck out your space in some pixelated swag.
To top it all off, set up video game consoles where people can play all night long. Try to find retro games that are multi-player to keep people interacting.
You could even get your guests to dress as their favorite retro video game characters.
Here’s a few games you might try:
- Super Mario Kart
- Legend of Zelda (NES)
- Super Mario Bros. (NES)
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2
- Donkey Kong
- Space Invaders
29 | Horror movie watch party
This Halloween party theme is perfect for those who love horror movies.
Set up a movie theater in your living room. Include some popcorn, candy corn and other snack foods that are traditionally served at the movie theaters.
To make it extra-scary, light the whole place with candles. (Just make sure they’re not in locations where they might get knocked over.)
Then watch all your favorite horror films or Halloween movies while eating popcorn and candy corn!
Bonus points if you can get the whole crowd to dress up as their favorite characters!
30 | Murder Mystery Dinner Party
For a more planned experience, Halloween’s spooky atmosphere is the perfect backdrop for hosting a murder mystery dinner.
You can buy an inexpensive kit (like one of these* from Amazon) that comes with everything you need to run the game.
Then assign the characters ahead of time so people can read over their lines and come up with a costume to match.
Or if you’re not sure how many people will actually show up, you can figure out the characters when everyone gets there.
Either way, it’s a fun way to entertain a smaller crowd for Halloween.
Well that’s it for my list of adult Halloween party themes. Hopefully you’ve found some ideas to use for your own Halloween bash.
Frequently asked questions
What time should an adult Halloween party start?
If you’re hosting a dinner party, 6 PM is a good starting time.
If it’s just cocktails and appetizers, 8 PM is better. The later time gives everyone a chance to eat a meal before they get to the party, and encourages your guests to leave their kids at home.
How much notice do you need to give for a Halloween party?
Since Halloween is a popular time to host parties, I like to send the invitations a little earlier than normal – 3 weeks in advance for digital invitations, or 4 weeks ahead of time for mailed ones. This also gives everyone enough time to find a costume (and a babysitter if necessary).
What day do people have Halloween parties?
The most common Halloween party date is the Saturday before Halloween if it doesn’t fall on a Saturday. Or on Halloween itself if it does.
Of course, you are free to choose whatever day works for your schedule. You may get more people to attend if you host it on a different day since there won’t be as many other options. (And they get to wear their costume more than once).
Other Halloween ideas you might like
Or browse all of our Halloween Ideas.
Have comments, suggestions or questions about our Halloween party themes for adults? Tell us in the section below.
This post was originally published on September 2, 2021 but was updated with new content on November 1, 2023.